Preview: Great Chance First Win Of The Season

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We preview tomorrow's game with Wigan Atheltic, who - without sounding too anti-Latics - represent a great chance for us to get our first win of the season. But can we get over that hurdle? Predictions, team news and more are all below.

Sunderland Team News

Lee Cattermole will miss the first of three games this weekend following his sending off against MK Dons in the Capital One Cup. Just how Martin O'Neill decides to fill the void left by his captain could be the only change from the draw against West Ham United.

Adam Johnson made his comeback from injury in the final few minutes against the Dons, and should he be considered fit enough to start then it is likely that Seb Larsson be deployed in central midfield -as he was against Swansea City - in Cattermole's absence. David Vaughan and David Meyler are alternative midfield options that O'Neill has at his disposal.

Titus Bramble and John O'Shea were both rested in midweek and the pair should be reinstated to central defence, whilst Carlos Cuellar has returned to training but is still a week or so away from returning to first team action.

Wigan Team News

The Latics are expected to be without Antonin Alcaraz and Franco Di Santo - who scored the winner the last time the two sides met at the Stadium of Light.

Both are still short on fitness and the game could come too soon, but Wigan will be buoyed by Mauro Boselli's brace in Tuesday's 4-1 Capital One Cup win over West Ham.

The biggest decision Roberto Martinez has to make is whether to go with three at the back or four, having reverted to the former in midweek.

Predicted Lineups

Sunderland: Mignolet; Gardner, Bramble, O'Shea, Rose; Johnson, Larsson, Colback, McClean; Sessegnon, Fletcher

Wigan: Al Habsi; Caldwell, Ramis, Figueroa; Beausejour, McCarthy, Watson, Gomez, Maloney; Boselli, Kone

Key Matchup: Jack Colback Vs James McCarthy

In an area where Sunderland are without one of their key players, Wigan will look to heavily populate the midfield area to implement their passing game.

Most likely to up against a three-man central midfield, Colback simply needs to continue winning possession for his team and making those well-timed runs that often go unsighted by defenders, whilst aiming to prevent McCarthy from regenerating possession for the visitors.

This is a week where Colback has the opportunity to cement his improving stature as a Premier League midfielder with a strong midfield display.

Recent Form: WDLLW

Win: Nottingham Forest 1-4 Wigan (Cox 47; Boselli 25, Figueroa 35, Gomez 44, McManaman 90)

Draw: Wigan 2-2 Stoke City (Maloney (pen) 5, Di Santo 49; Walters (pen) 40, Crouch 76)

Loss: Manchester United 4-0 Wigan (Scholes 51, Hernandez 63, Buttner 66, Powell 82)

Loss: Wigan 1-2 Fulham (Kone 90+1; Rodallega 31, Duff 68)

Win: West Ham 1-4 Wigan (Maiga 7; Boselli 14, 41, Ramis 38, Gomez (pen) 84)

Last Time Around: Sunderland 1-2 Wigan Athletic, 26/11/11

Franco Di Santo's late winner earned Wigan a second win of the season and in doing so cost Steve Bruce his job. Without question the lowest point of last season, things had started well after Seb Larsson scored after just eight minutes. Sunderland then went on to shower the Wigan goal with shots but found an inspired Ali Al Habsi in their way.

Then, just before the half-time interval, Larsson's trip on Victor Moses presented Jordi Gomez with a chance to level from the spot - which he made no mistake.

With desperation levels rising in the second half, and Sunderland still unable to find a second goal, a defensive mix-up between Keiren Westwood and Wes Brown saw the latter dispossessed by James McArthur, who then found Di Santo to tap home the winner.

The Ref: Howard Webb

One of football's most experienced match officials, Webb was in charge of five Sunderland games last season with a record of one win, one draw and three losses.

He dished out five red cards last season - the first of which to Phil Bardsley in August's Tyne-Wear derby defeat. The most controversial decision he made in a Sunderland game was the decision to award Everton a penalty on Boxing Day, which enabled David Moyes' men to fortuitously draw level.

This season, Webb has taken charge of three games, showing eight yellow cards and no red cards in the process.

What The Managers Said

Martin O'Neill:

We have an opportunity to take the initiative; Wigan are a fine side. There's the old cliché about there being no easy games, but there genuinely aren't, home or away.

You have to battle your way through every game.

It's a difficult game for us. Wigan are strong, they have a bit of panache and desire about their game, even though the result didn't go their way [at Fulham] last weekend.

We have to relish the game and I look forward to us doing our very best.

Roberto Martinez

It's important we build on the momentum picked up at West Ham because as I've said before, competition for places in the team is very open at the minute.

You can work and work at things and aspects in football and spend hours on physical, technical and tactical areas of your team but nothing gives you that strength that a winning feeling gives you.

We don't want to be a team that just fights against relegation, we want to be a team to do something else, and that means the next few games are vitally important.

Roker Report Predicts

Both teams will arrive at the Stadium of Light with confidence after winning in midweek whilst resting certain first-team players, but we think home advantage will sway a fixture that Wigan have developed a penchant for gate crashing - in fact, Wigan have won here three times in the Premier League (and once in the FA Cup) since being promoted to the top-flight.

Seeing as you've put us on the spot, we'll go with a 2-0 win.

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